Necessity may be the mother of invention.
At Burgin High School, necessity is the parent-coach.
For it was out of necessity that the husband-wife team of Chris and Darla Beckerson came to coach the Bulldogs cross country team.
"My oldest boy was running. He did pretty well in middle school, and my next two boys were doing pretty well in elementary," Chris Beckerson said after Burgin took the Class A division of Saturday's Meet of Champions at Masterson Station Park. "The coach decided he didn't want to do it anymore, and we went a year, and they ran like two meets and didn't even run region."
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When the disgruntled father approached school officials about finding a coach, he got an unexpected response: Why don't you coach?
Beckerson, with no cross country experience, took some time to think about it but eventually said, "OK, I guess."
He took a crash course in coaching, reading all he could to put together a training program.
That was in 2005.
The Beckersons' oldest son, Billy, was the oldest runner on the seven-man team as a freshman. He now competes for Georgetown College, where he is a freshman.
Jon Beckerson, a senior, is Burgin's No. 2 runner this season.
Alex Beckerson, a 6-foot-3 freshman, is No. 1.
Nick Beckerson, an eighth-grader, is in the wings.
Chris Beckerson, by trade a supervisor at a Danville printing company, also is assisted by John Powell, Burgin's former baseball coach and father of No. 8 runner Jared Powell. Darla Beckerson, who teaches elementary reading and math, handles administrative coaching duties, aka paperwork.
Alex Beckerson said his initial reaction to learning that his parents would be his coaches was "everywhere from happiness to 'Oh, jeez, I'm gonna have to work the hardest.' "
Having his parents coach means "I can whine more without getting in trouble," Jon Beckerson said with a laugh. "Then again, I get talks all day, not just at practice."
After the Beckerson brothers, Burgin's next five are freshman Seth Royalty, sophomores Austin Shewmaker and Travis McEachern, junior Devan Lay and senior Nate Kibler. Then come Jared Powell and Cody Ward.
To hear them, the 17-member team is one big family.
"We all treat each other as if we were brothers and sisters," Kibler said. "And that's what really helps us throughout the races, when we've got our brothers and sisters standing on the sidelines yelling for us."
"It's a good team. The biggest thing is they're really nice people," Shewmaker said. "And Coach, he knows a lot. He usually does pretty good on helping us out on what we need to work on and stuff. I'd rather run on this team than anything else. I love this team."
All of the top seven have been competing for at least two years. Alex Beckerson started as a second-grader and still loves the sport.
"I like competing," he said. "It's something I'm good at and it's a lot of fun."
Burgin's success this season has not been limited to Class A.
Although the Bulldogs have an enrollment of 145, they have defeated schools nearly 15 times as large.
"It's been really exciting," McEachern said. "When we beat Dunbar this year, that was the first time we've ever beaten them in our school history."
Next up for Burgin is Saturday's Class A, Region 5 meet. The Bulldogs, ninth at last year's State Meet, are defending region champions. But Trimble County, fourth at the State Meet, will be running on its home course.
Royalty says he hopes "that our team can just pull it together and just go in there and run a good race."
"We're capable of a lot," Lay said. "We should go out there and win."
If the Bulldogs are in need of encouragement, Jon Beckerson says the best bit of coaching advice he's received from his father is this: "Leave it all behind. Because after this race you're not going to need it again, so leave all your energy on the course."
■ Lexington Christian will join Burgin at the Trimble County meet. Lexington Catholic will run the Class 2A, Region 4 race at Western Hills. Bryan Station, Henry Clay, host Lafayette, Paul Dunbar and Tates Creek will be compete in the Class 3A, Region 6 meet at Masterson Station Park.